The Ausbund is an amazing collection of songs that the Amish sing at their church services. It is a rare find in bookstores (and probably can only be found online for most people). I have been blessed to have been given a copy by my Amish friends. What a lovely book. I spent the morning reading some of the songs and reflecting on their meaning. What I quickly realized is that it is the guide to their religion. I also realized that the rest of the world could benefit from reading the Ausbund and applying the same principles to our daily lives.
It was Song 56 that struck me as it specifically discusses the process for shunning another person in the community. It starts with trying to work out the problems with the offending member/neighbor but if things are not rectified, the members are instructed to avoid the individual in question.
“From him do separate yourself
Indeed the very same hour,
Keep him as a heathen
As Christ has proclaimed
Paul also said without deceit and craftiness
Put him away from among you
Whoever is disobedient.”
The song goes on to tell the reader to still love that neighbor and do not spread gossip.
What I find so telling about this is the gentle way that the “disobedient” are handled. There is no court system, no fines, no jail time…just a removal of oneself from that individual until such a time as they are prepared to accept the reproof of the church.
Isn’t that the way we should all handle strife in our life? Rather than lash out or retaliate with hurtful words, simply separate ourselves from the person and situation. This is a valuable lesson for us, one of many that the Amish have to share.